Full Length Research Paper

A qualitative analysis of mindfulness practice and cognitive therapy tools in preventing relapse from depression

Alexander, V.L*. and Tatum, B. Charles

Abstract

Depression continues to be one of the most common mental disorders. With chronic depression studies showing an increased risk of incapacity and repeated relapse to be significantly high, continued exploration on preventing relapse is valuable. Research on the prevention of relapse from depression has shown that both cognitive treatment and mindfulness practices can be effective when patients utilize tools and develop skills. This study looked at three tracks of participants diagnosed with a mood disorder. The three tracks were Cognitive Therapy (CT), Mindfulness Training (MT), and Treatment As Usual (TAU). All participants had been trained in CT and then randomly separated into three groups. These three tracks were assessed at 3, 6, and 12 months in terms of their stated level of depression (measured on the Beck Depression Inventory). This study was a qualitative follow-up to a previous study (Alexander et al., 2012). In the current study, the participants reported the tools and skills they used to manage their depression. The following results were obtained. Seventeen tools/skills were identified by three independent coders from the participants self-reports. Three sets of tools were used consistently and significantly across all three tracks: (a) catching and refuting thought distortions, (b) examining thought records, and (c) an activity schedule (GRAPES). Surprisingly, more participants in the TAU track reported the use of mindfulness practices at 12 months than those in the MT tract. There was no significant change in reported depressive symptoms for any of the groups. The authors discuss the implications and practice uses of these findings.

Key words: Depression, cognitive therapy, mindfulness, therapy tools.

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